Dear Analyst #106: Democratizing data knowledge and community building in Africa with Gift Ojeabulu

Gift Ojeabulu is a data science professional, community organizer, and data practitioner from Nigeria. He studied biochemistry at university but eventually switched to computer science. He first started in web and Android development before moving to the data science field. By attending developers conferences in Lagos, he started learning more about data science and started building his own data science communities in 2019. He learned a lot of his skills through Udacity and even won a data science contest in Nigeria on malaria detection. In this episode, Gift talks about his background working in data science and community building in Africa.

A paper on FIFA winners leads to a job

Gift was playing a lot of FIFA and was curious about how players in the game became super stars. By browsing through Kaggle, Gift found some open data sets on FIFA players and wrote a paper on why Lionel Messi would win the Ballon d’Or. His paper included data visualizations and told a data story about his findings. Someone from CBB Analytics took notice of Gift’s paper and Gift was eventually hired as a contractor at CBB.

Cleaning sports data to give to coaches

Sports data is actually very well organized. When Gift was a data scientist at CBB analytics, he helped clean data so that coaches could make data-driven decisions on and off the field. Coaches use the data to make good trades during drafts, for instance. Gift would analyze players’ shooting tendencies in the pre-game report. In the post-game report, you could see how the player performed and then do a comparison to the player’s previous games. Internally, the team was using dbt to help with organizing the data warehouse.

Gift talked about how domain knowledge is important when analyzing a dataset. In sports, you might see Messi on TV and might notice certain qualities that make him a better or worse player than what his stats show. This domain expertise is a great way to detect whether the data quality is good or bad.

Building a data community in Africa

Gift saw the power of community building when he as in his church’s choir. One of his first developer community events he attended was a DevFest meetup hosted by the Google Developers Group (GDG). He met a developer advocate who worked for Google Africa and started learning about community building specifically for the developer and tech communities in Africa.

In Africa, Gift said there is a community of data analysts, data scientists, and data architects who aren’t really connected through communities. That’s why he started DataFest Africa, a conference bringing together policymakers, startups, and other stakeholders to develop the ecosystem in Africa. Gift also developed an interest in machine learning and became an organizer for the MLOps Community. He’s the main organizer for the MLOps Lagos chapter of this community.

Source: DataFest Africa

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